As the structural engineer of record, RJC played a critical role in the design and construction of the zoo’s much anticipated Panda Passage. The zoo underwent vast improvements in upgrading the old Elephant Crossing to accommodate four pandas in this state-of-the-art facility. Creating an enclosure that focused around the health and well-being of the pandas was of great importance to the client. Working collaboratively with RJC’s Building Science and Restoration team, RJC installed two Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene film (ETFE) skylights in the new enclosure, providing protection from the cold, hail, snow and rain, while still allowing the maximum amount of natural light into the panda’s habitat. The transmission of natural UV light is essential to a panda’s health, particularly in Alberta’s cold climate and additionally, supports the growth of bamboo, their prime food source, within the space.
As environmental stewards of sustainability, RJC was honoured to make an in-kind donation of five metric tons, worth $8,000, of glulam timber beams to the habitat. The beams hold a special significance for the project, in that they were originally salvaged from the Calgary Zoo’s 1966 Elephant and Giraffe House. The Panda Passage is also applying for the Petals certification in the Living Building Challenge - an ambitious goal in creating a space that is sustainable and has a positive impact within the community.